NSPN Announces 2018 Award Recipients

National Safe Place Network (NSPN) recognized several individuals, organizations and businesses during its 2018 national awards ceremony on July 19 at the Focus 2018 conference in Louisville, Kentucky.

“We are honored to celebrate youth service professionals, volunteers, advocates, and community partners who have made a positive difference in the lives of youth and families,” said Laurie Jackson, President/CEO of NSPN. “The 2018 NSPN Award recipients have contributed their time, money, expertise, and voices to ensure youth safety and for that, we are grateful.”

NSPN is proud to recognize the following 2018 NSPN Award winners:

Model Program Award
This award recognizes agencies that have developed creative and innovative ways to improve service delivery to youth and their families. NSPN is thrilled to celebrate two premiere organizations: King County Safe Place (KCSP) in Seattle, Washington, and Looking Glass Community Services in Eugene, Oregon.

KCSP is a formal partnership between two agencies, YouthCare and Friends of Youth. KCSP follows a deeply collaborative model; the two work together to coordinate and serve all portions of the program. Community education about Safe Place, site outreach and support, answering the hotline, and responding in-person to young people requesting Safe Place services are among the many services provided to the community.  These responsibilities are particularly challenging when considering the size of King County, a vast geographic region spanning over 2,300 square miles and with a population of over two million people. Within their community, KCSP has signed up over 2100 business and organizations as Safe Place sites. KCSP has implemented the several innovative activities, including: partnering with eight schools to include the Safe Place logo and KCSP's phone number on student badges, providing support for 1,700 mobile Safe Place sites, PSAs for location radio stations to generate awareness of the program, and sending out KCSP postcards to all sites in King County thanking them for the development of protocols for youth transfer. To learn more about KCSP, please visit: http://www.youthcare.org/our-programs/safe-place.

Looking Glass Community Services is dedicated to meeting the complex needs of runaway and homeless youth (RHY). Because of this dedication, Looking Glass offers a wide array of robust RHY programming, including a day access center, a drop-in school, an emergency shelter, sex trafficking prevention, street outreach, transitional living, and a satellite rural program. Beyond getting their basic needs met, youth who access Looking Glass RHY services receive comprehensive case management, counseling, and vocational training on their path towards healthy adulthood. Looking Glass is creative in its utilization and leveraging of expert community resources. From its inception in 1970, the Looking Glass approach to providing services to homeless youth has been guided by professionals and experts. Today, federal, state, and local government agencies regularly review our programming for homeless youth to ensure that we are providing the services that are evidence based and deemed “best practices.” Looking Glass is held to rigorous standards and demonstrable outcomes by these agencies. Looking Glass embraces this type of scrutiny, and is committed to service delivery informed by the newest and best research in the field. Learn more here: https://www.lookingglass.us/.

Helping Hands Award
With limited resources, volunteers are often the unsung heroes of youth service organizations and are crucial to daily operations. This award recognizes an individual or group of volunteers who go above and beyond the call of duty. NSPN's 2018 Helping Hands Award goes to Dr. Linda Sacks.

After a distinguished career as a neonatologist, Dr. Sacks brought her passion for vulnerable youth and cooking to Park Place Outreach, trading in tiny babies for at-risk teens. Since 2016, Dr. Sacks has worked with our residents every Wednesday to prepare a weekly menu and cook dinner, teaching the youth cooking skills and exposing them to new foods and recipes. When the garden at Park Place is cooperating, Dr. Sacks incorporates fresh vegetables grown by the youth. Known for her common sense and problem solving, Dr. Sacks is able to connect with the kids with firm compassion. The kids love spending time with Dr. Sacks in the kitchen, where she shares her life lessons interwoven with cooking basics. After the meal is prepared, everyone sits at the dinner table together, family style. With the success of Dr. Sacks’s weekly cooking program, the agency invited community leaders to join them at their dinner table on Wednesday nights for good eating and conversation. They have been honored to have distinguished guests from the school system, government, and the private sector, including the Mayor, Superintendent, and Judge Leroy Burke, just to name a few. Dr. Sacks’s consistent commitment to Park Place created new opportunities for exposure and enrichment for our at-risk youth, who regularly face trauma and crisis outside of Park Place. Dr. Sacks volunteers three hours every Wednesday, for approximately 150 hours/year.

Safe Place® Coordinator of the Year Award
This award recognizes the Coordinator who provides quality Safe Place program management and does so without expecting recognition for their invaluable efforts. NSPN is proud to recognize Wendy Gore as the 2018 Safe Place Coordinator of the Year.

Wendy Gore is an outstanding Coordinator for the Safe Place program because she is loyal and very committed to the mission of Sea Haven and Safe Place which allows immediate access for children and youth to help in the community. Wendy started with Sea Haven in 2004 as an assistant in the administrative office and soon became a full-time Administrative Assistant to the Executive Director. In March 2012, she became the Safe Place and Outreach Coordinator for the Sea Haven's basic center program. Wendy’s friendly approach and personal communication with local businesses has contributed to a successful Safe Place program in Horry County. She is willing to go above and beyond in stepping outside the box to improve outreach efforts and increase awareness. Wendy's persistence and determination in finding a way to make things happen continue to sustain the Safe Place program for Sea Haven.

Volunteer of the Year Award
This award recognizes individuals who give selflessly of their time to strengthen NSPN's work to strengthen the safety net for youth. This year's Volunteer of the Year is Charles Corrales.

Charles has volunteered his services as a certified meeting professional to NSPN for nearly a decade. Charles is a busy business owner (CEC Meetings and Incentives) who dedicates an incredible level of expertise in contract negotiations and on-site event management multiple times each year to NSPN. Not only does Charles lead the effort to locate new venues for all of NSPN’s largest meetings and conferences, he also donates his negotiation and contractual services by working directly with the selected venue to negotiate rates and concessions; drives the creation of the contract, reviews it, and provides feedback to ensure NSPN is protected.He also volunteers his time in the planning efforts. Charles assists the NSPN team with planning event logistics and regularly compares the event banquet orders (EBOs) to NSPN’s plans to ensure a smooth outcome. In addition, Charles covers his own costs to travel to these events and volunteers his services to ensure the event goes exactly as planned. There is no job too small for Charles. At each conference, Charles can be found – with actual white gloves – inspecting the rooms of the event’s VIPs. Most recently, he took the contracted venue’s event planner under his wing to mentor her.

Charles is recognized as the NSPN Volunteer of the Year because he has provided continuous service to NSPN to ensure each event is as perfect as it can be. He treats the staff of NSPN as his VIPs; however, NSPN wants Charles to know he is their VIP.

Community Involvement Award
This award recognizes a business, serving as a community partner, which has consistently gone above and beyond the expectations of a local program. The 2018 Community Involvement Award goes to QuikTrip Corporation.

QuikTrip is an active community partner and is crucial to thriving youth service organizations, like Youth In Need in St. Charles, Missouri. QuikTrip helps in so many ways – from providing generous financial and in-kind support and supplying employees as volunteers to serving as Safe Place sites in communities in which they serve. As a corporation, local business, and valued community partner, QuikTrip has consistently gone above and beyond the expectations of the 19 licensed Safe Place agencies it supports. QuikTrip makes crisis services available in countless communities, with locations and hours that are easily and quickly accessible to young people. QuikTrip has a proven track record of developing and cultivating strong relationships and partnerships. Agencies can always count on QuikTrip employees to be well-trained. In fact, nationally, QuikTrip has integrated Safe Place training into its human resources practices. Employees not only know what they’re doing and how to assist young people in times of crisis, but they also are always gracious, kind, welcoming, patient, helpful, calm, and understanding to youth, staff and customers. For more than 27 years, QuikTrip has been a strong corporate partner of NSPN with 19 Safe Place agencies in 10 states, as well as countless communities served by those agencies. QuikTrip first got involved with Safe Place in Tulsa, Oklahoma and today, the company proudly displays the Safe Place signs at more than 600 QuikTrip convenience stores located in 10 states across the nation. To learn more about QuikTrip, please visit: https://www.quiktrip.com/.

Youth in Action Award
This award recognizes a young person or a group of young people, age 21 and under, whose efforts go above and beyond to make a difference in the lives of others. The first-ever Youth in Action Award goes to Sharday Hamilton.

Sharday is on National Network for Youth’s (NN4Y) National Youth Advisory Council. In her nomination, Yorri Berry-Harris with NN4Y appreciated the distinguished honor to work with this amazing individual and watch her grow as a passionate and visionary leader with a thirst for empowering whatever community she serves. Having experienced multiple challenges both inside and outside of systems of care, Sharday is now the leading advocate on NN4Y’s Youth Advisory council regarding the importance of ensuring homeless and disconnected youth can access proper identification. Sharday regularly advocates throughout Illinois and across the country for homeless youth and young mothers. She has sat in meetings engaging federal agency leaders and RHY organizational heads highlighting less obvious challenges and proposing solutions to address barriers associated with lack of identification and pregnant and/or parenting while homeless. While most run or hide from the shortcomings behind them, Sharday faces the personal and systemic failures of her past head on, while seeking to act on the negative experiences to positively impact her own life and the lives of other youth like her in this nation.

Culture of Respect Award
This award honors those who champion the cause of justice and equality. NSPN is honored to recognize Asma Inge-Hanif with the 2018 Culture of Respect Award.

As an Advanced Nurse Practitioner in 1987, Asma Hanif established Al Nisaa, a holistic Health, education and social services organization, in order to provide health services for under-served and uninsured women and children. Her mission was motivated by the death of her grandmother from a preventable condition because she did not have access to health care. When she studied nursing at Howard University in Washington, D.C., Hanif saw that doctors were not always sensitive to the needs and modesty concerns of Muslim women, often unintentionally. She believes that every man, woman and child has the right to receive quality care in a dignified manner, and to be assisted in the achievement of optimal health and well-being, regardless of race, creed, or socio-economic level. Asma has cared for the homeless, refugees, trafficking victims and women victims of domestic violence for over 30 years. Through her service as a nurse-practitioner, she discovered/uncovered a large number of women experiencing homelessness and violence in their lives. It was through providing healthcare to Muslim women that Hanif learned of the problem of domestic violence within the Muslim community - particularly immigrant Muslim women. Hanif has been answering the call of people in need for over 30 years, as a nurse and champion for the underprivileged. She cares for the homeless and uninsured through a variety of community initiatives.

Executive Leadership Award
This award recognizes a leader who is consistently dedicated to staff and works hard to fulfill the mission of the youth service organization. This year's Executive Leadership Award goes to Christina Jackson.

Christina has improved staff performance and program development at Sea Haven, Inc. by increasing the number of training hours required for professional staff and offering both in-house and inter-agency seminars and workshops. With Christina's support, five current staff members have been certified as professional trainers of current youth management strategies. Sea Haven presents a community collaborative workshop each year for Sea Haven staff and staff of other local youth serving agencies.Christina leads a team of program directors to review program components, improve service integration, and strategize about program development, staff issues and agency management. She fosters promotion of youth service staff into leadership positions. She has strengthened and fortified Sea Haven by implementing many well thought out practices designed to enhance agency performance, advance community relations, and improve fiscal management, staff, and program performance. Her efforts and leadership have succeeded in bringing life to a vision to construct a new shelter campus for Sea Haven in 2016. Christina's hard work and dedication will surely leave an enduring legacy.

Essential Voice Award
This award recognizes a journalist, media outlet, or national spokesperson(s) for their contributions to increasing awareness of the needs of youth and those who serve them. The 2018 NSPN Essential Voice Award goes to Rotimi Rainwater.

Rotimi Rainwater has been working as a writer and director in the film and television industry for the past 15 years. He began directing for cause-based projects such as The Truth Anti-Tobacco Campaign, CDC’s VERB Campaign, and The ACLU’s 10couples.orgRotimi later decided to return to his roots and focus on projects pertaining to social causes important to him. One of his most personal projects, his feature film Sugar, is based on his time living on the streets in Orlando, Florida. This film was screened before members of the United States Congress prior to being released in theaters. He resides in Los Angeles, California.

His latest film, Lost in America, is a feature documentary highlighting youth homelessness in the U.S. The film takes an all-encompassing look at this pandemic highlighting issues like: human trafficking, the foster care system, youth rejected because of their sexuality, domestic violence, abuse, and more. It also examines what many organizations, politicians and other public figures are doing (or not doing) to youth. Rotimi develops personal connections with the youth featured in the documentary, providing an inside look at who they are and what their lives are truly like. Lost in America explores the reasons why they ended up on the streets, the issues they face, and the things they have to do to survive. As Rotimi explains, "These youth are not outcasts, invisible children that are meant to be forgotten. They are our future, they are our hope, and by illuminating their stories we hope to serve as a catalyst for change, making these youth no longer lost in America."

Rotimi (third from right) and his crew visited NSPN in 2015 to interview Laurie Jackson, President/CEO.

Together We Can Award
This award recognizes an individual whose attitude and actions demonstrate extraordinary passion for serving young people, commitment to professional development, and courage to engage community support. The 2018 Together We Can Award goes to Lynn Caffery.

Lynn Caffery collaborates with schools, churches, law enforcement, juvenile justice, family court, and the district attorney in her community, bringing awareness to human trafficking, trauma, and mental health needs and sharing information about trauma-informed care. She brings the power of her lived experience to her own work and shares that knowledge with others in the field.

As Executive Director for Safe Harbor Youth in Huntsville, Alabama, she has guided her organization through significant growth, aligning their identity with their mission. At national events, including Focus 2018, Lynn assists homeless youth with meeting needs by linking them to local resources. Her most frequent response to any question is "Sure, I’ll help." With boundless energy and a warm connection to everyone she meets, Lynn exemplifies the NSPN philosophy that together, we can!

HEROES for Youth Award
This award recognizes individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to the services provided to at-risk youth on a national scale. HEROES serves as an acronym for individuals who:

H     Hear the voices of at-risk youth
E     Engage in the discussion
R     Respond to the call
O     Observe the need for change
E     Educate and encourage key stakeholders to make a difference
S     Significantly change the lives of at-risk youth for the better

This year's HEROES for Youth Award goes to Ellen DeGeneres.

It would be difficult to miss Ellen or the impact she has had on social issues and communities across the country. Though not a social worker by training, what Ellen does is at the heart of community service. Her gifts of responding to need and rallying the broader community are well documented. Her recognition that love, compassion, and cooperation toward common good is in our collective best interest is integral to this award. Though Ellen’s generosity is well documented, it is for her commitment to youth, educators, non-profits, and community change that drives this selection.

Lifetime Achievement Award
This award recognizes an individual whose distinguished record of professional achievements and accomplishments has improved the lives of youth and families across decades. NSPN is proud to recognize Phil Kouns as the recipient of the 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award.

Phil joined the Christian City Children’s Village in May 2006 after 18 years at Rainbow House Children's Shelter as their Founder and Executive Director. Prior to Rainbow House he worked for the Department of Family and Children's services as a supervisor. Phil has touched thousands of youth and families in and around the Metro Atlanta area in the 40+ years he has worked in family and children services.

Phil is a visionary. He is always striving to come up with new ways to meet the ever growing need of youth, of families, and others in need in the community. He is a man filled with compassion who sees the greatest potential in everyone and strives to help them realize that potential. Phil has served on every board and committee known to man to help push the envelope in growing and developing youth work. He chairs the Child Caring Institution chapter and Faith-based Affinity Committee for Together Georgia. He has served on the Advisory Board for National Safe Place Network and was a member of the Board of Directors for Southeastern Network for many years. He also served on the ACRC board for residential child care facilities.